Finally, despite controversy, Alamo school has a board

ALBUQUERQUE

The results are in!

Weeks after the April 18 special election, the Navajo Election Administration officially named a four-member board for the Alamo Navajo Community School, one seat off from the full five-member board. 

The special school board election took the place of the Nov. 8 general election that didn’t happen.

Alamo is a satellite community of the Navajo Nation nestled in the mountains of northwestern Socorro County about 220 miles from the nation’s capital in Window Rock.

The school is one of the Navajo Nation’s first contract schools established in 1979 under Public Law 93-638, the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act.

The four newly seated officials are Edward Padilla (342 votes), Stephen Apache (300), Bucky Apache (260), and Hector Guerro (249).

Guerro is the only returning board member.
 
But Earl Apachito, who also ran again, is still fighting for a seat. He came in 3rd with 277 votes.

The tables turned on Apachito when the Department of Diné Education filed an ethics complaint against him in April.

Providing back-up documents, DoDE asserted that Apachito falsified his candidate application by failing to report his marriage to a school board employee. 

That’s a violation of the election code, according to DoDE’s notice.

DoDE states that it has every right to oversee matters because it’s responsible for ensuring that all community schools comply with federal and Navajo Nation laws.

In early May, Apachito took his case to the Office of Hearings and Appeals.

“It’s not over yet,” said David Jordan, Apachito’s attorney.

“It can be undone,” he added, referring to the vacant seat on the school board.

Apachito’s legal fight is one of many since the Alamo Navajo School Board primary election last August.

The trail is strewn with legal actions, attempted due process hearings, community complaints about questionable spending, topped off with a draft chapter resolution calling for a financial audit of former school board expenses.

The election discord started when school board candidate Stanley Herrera filed complaints against two fellow candidates who came in ahead of him in the primary election, Hotona Secatero and Pedro Apache.

Ten candidates are placed on the general election ballot. Herrera fell below that mark taking him out of the running.

In his complaint, Herrera claimed Secatero and Apache violated the election code since they had worked for the school board in the past five years.

But, OHA hearing officer Richie Nez determined that wasn’t the case since neither Secatero nor Apache taught at the school. 

“The plain language of the (election) statute prohibits employment only with the school,” interpreted Nez, differentiating the school from the school board’s enterprises, a health clinic, wellness center, radio station, and early childhood center, to name some.


 To read the full article, pick up your copy of the Navajo Times at your nearest newsstand Thursday mornings!

  Find newsstand locations at this link.



Categories: Education

About Author

Colleen Keane

Colleen is a New Mexico freelance journalist who has been reporting for the Navajo Times since 2012. She primarily covers the Albuquerque area. Prior to working for the Times, she taught Journalism at Rock Point and Alamo Navajo communities. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Southern California. She can be reached at colleenannkeane@gmail.com